In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
When I was asked to review the audio for All These Things I’ve Done, I was ecstatic. I love pretty much any storyline set in the future with a dystopian theme. But this story was not at all what I was expecting.
Sure, it’s set in the future, and the government is controlling things, as one would expect in any good dystopian novel. I think that’s probably where the resemblance to a dystopian ends, though. This story reads more like a contemporary that’s been infiltrated by the mob.
Anya is the daughter of the now-deceased crime boss who headed the Balanchine chocolate empire. This may not sound like much of a crime, but chocolate is illegal in 2083, at least in America. But Anya is sixteen, and even if she had a mind for the business aspect of her family’s legacy, she’s not in the least bit interested in taking over the family business. Or so she thought.
Anya is a very level-headed young woman with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. Despite this, or maybe because of it, her character seemed too strong, or maybe just cold. I never connected with her the way I did with some of the other characters in the story. Considering what she’s been through, though, I suppose I can understand. Though it doesn’t make sense to me to allow people into one’s life, only to distance them and never let them see the person behind the cool façade.
I did feel that the narrator lent a more mature voice to the character of Anya than I had expected. A small part of me believes I would have enjoyed the story more if I had read the book myself, rather than listening to it, because of Ms. Kadushin’s rendering. This is the first audio I’ve listened to with her as the narrator, though, so I can’t say whether her lack of emotion was to better demonstrate how adult-like Anya had to become in her position or if she simply reads with little inflection and variation between different characters.
The story itself was interesting and very different from anything I’ve read. It was shocking and appalling and entirely unpredictable. It depicts a young girl who almost single-handedly cares for her family, who questions her faith, and who finds herself falling in love with the wrong guy, no matter how hard she tries not to. The dystopian aspect may not have kept me hooked, but the star-crossed lovers and the mafia tie-in did.